Some thought about the foundations for the blue house

I still do not have a clear view on the directions IBM will go with Lotus Foundation and Lotus Bluehouse. From an IBM Business Partner perspective I have to ask myself: How can I make money with that?

The target market for Lotus Foundations serverproducts will be the small sized company, under 500 seats, more an SOHO than a SMB company. Someone from IBM mentioned the “Trucker company who even has not IT staff at all but needs email, collaboration and file management”. So when I look at these companies: Why should they choose an IBM product when the could have Google Hosted Apps? Yes, it is an appliance, it runs on customers own infrastructure – but is this really an advantage? As long as I do not know anything about the pricing, it just speculation. But for me as a reseller of IBM technology I fear there is not much in it for me – and it will be a hard sell. In addition, these kind of companies cause high maintenance and do not want to pay for it. Don´t get me wrong: I like the idea behind Lotus Foundations as a collaboration server out of the box, and obviously the Net Integration guys did a good job packaging that stuff and making it remote manageable and installable in about 15 minutes. But my question ist: How will I make money with that?

Furtheron: Lotus Bluehouse, the hosted version of Lotus Foundations, will raise that question even more. As I asked Mike Rhodin in the Bloggers Q&A, he said its a kind of experiment, a test what the market is willing to pay for that. “There are not much companies out there making money with Software as a Service solutions”. Well, thats right. But will IBM sell that stuff through the channel? Yesterday at the Business Partner Roundtable the answer was a clear YES. But isn´t this another reason why these small companies will choose other solutions that deliver “collaboration on demand”? Simple go to a web site, register, pay online, ready to go?

I am sceptical about the business model, not about the technology. To make that clear again 😉

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